Most often, we don’t worry about our health until we start to experience severe symptoms.Your body has more than one way of telling you that something isn’t right. And skin and nails are especially telling of other health issues. Here are the changes that could signal a health problem.
A pimple that doesn’t go away
According to Bradley Bloom, MD, a dermatologist at Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists, watch out for the pimple that won’t heal. “Many patients come into the office complaining of a pimple that just won’t heal or begins to bleed,” says Dr. Bloom. “And it ends up being a basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common form of skin cancer.” As an expert in Mohs micrographic surgery, Dr. Bloom sees a lot of these in his practice and says that Mohs surgery is an easy solution with the lowest recurrence rate.
A recurring scaly patch
During the winter months, it’s not unusual to experience dry and scaly skin. But Dr. Bloom advises to be on the lookout for scaly patches that won’t go away or keep coming back. Dr. Bloom cautions that while sometimes this could be eczema, it can also be actinic keratoses.
“These are pre-cancerous lesions caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and are often first noticed as rough patches of skin on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, bald scalp, lips, and the back of the hands,” says Dr. Bloom. He urges patients to use an SPF lotion at all times to avoid any type of sun damage and to treat these lesions before they develop into something more serious.
A red line on your nail
Most people don’t realize your nails can reveal a lot about your health. One thing to check for is a red line down one or multiple nails. According to Thomas Knackstedt, MD, dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, a red line is usually benign and can just mean the nail is thinning. But in some cases, it may mean more.
“When red lines affect multiple fingers, they may be caused by inflammation of the root of the nail by a variety of conditions such as psoriasis or lichen planus,” adds Dr. Knackstedt.
“When only a single nail is affected, the red line may be caused by a number of different benign growths in the nail including a lipoma (fatty tumor), fibroma, or wart.” Dr. Knackstedt advises that if there is any change in the line, such as widening, have it evaluated by a doctor.